by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Romans 1:8-19
I. The Word of God is precious to believers, an object of desire - Psalm 19:7-11
A. O, how I love your law! - Psalm 119:97-100
B. Longing for God’s law - Psalm 119:40
C. Desire it like a new born babe desires milk - I Peter 2:1-3
II. A popular fad among denominations and liberal churches is to poll the communities and members to see what people want in a church.
A. This is the way many churches become mega-churches.
1. They focus on what people want and not on what they need - II Timothy 4:3-4
2. They realized that if you give people whatever they want, they will come to get it.
B. In one liberal congregation, who changed its name to “Willow Creek Community Church” so that there would be no stigma associated with the congregation and a particular set of beliefs, the preacher’s office has a large poster that says “What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer value?”
1. Their philosophy drove them to offer activities, believing that as people participated in those activities, they would become more spiritually mature.
2. To measure their success, they picked a simple guide – the more people participated, well, the more they must be spiritually mature.
3. After several years of repeated study they found out that they were wrong.
a. “Increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does NOT predict whether someone’s becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more.”
b. What was needed? “Fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ were disappointed with the church. They say that they are not being fed. They want more of the meat of the Word of God. They want more serious-minded Scripture taught to them.”
c. “We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and come Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self-feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, who to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.
c. Source: [https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2007/october-online-only/willow-creek-repents.html]
4. In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t come from elaborate church programs but through the age old practices of praying, Bible reading, and fellowship between brethren.
III. The Word of God is Powerful
A. It is a fire and the reader is the wood - Jeremiah 5:14
B. It is a hammer breaking rocks - Jeremiah 23:29
C. A power to save - Romans 1:16
D. A power to preserve - Philippians 2:15-16
E. A power that lasts - Isaiah 40:8
IV. It is Important
A. Give attention to reading - I Timothy 4:13
B. Let it dwell in you - Colossians 3:16
C. Several years ago Tyndale House Publishers commissioned a survey. Their findings were interesting
1. 90% of the frequent readers of the Bible felt peace all or most of the time. Compared to only 58% of the people who only read their Bibles less than once a month.
2. 64% who read their Bible more than once a week felt joyful all or most of the time. Compared to only 35% who read their Bibles less than once a month.
3. 81% of the frequent Bible readers felt content most of the time. Compare to 67% of the ones who rarely read their Bibles.
4. 69% of the frequent Bible readers felt extremely satisfied with life in general. Compared to only 57% of the ones who rarely read their Bibles.
5. 92% of the regular Bible readers said their lives have a clear purpose and meaning. Only 69% of the infrequent readers could say the same.
D. Why? Because God gives us guidance through the Bible - II Peter 1:3
1. Life is so much easier when you know where you are going and how to get there.
2. Dealing with people is so much easier when you understand their motivations and see what their behaviors cause - Romans 15:1-4
E. The Bible matures us - II Timothy 3:16-17
F. People seek out so many foolish ways to figure out what to do - Isaiah 8:19-20
1. Spiritualists are fakes anyway, but think how foolish it is to seek help from people who are dead - Ecclesiastes 9:5-6
2. Praying to the dead to intervene in this life is foolishness because they have passed on - Job 14:10-14
3. But God’s word guides us - Psalm 119:105
G. God’s word sanctifies us - John 17:17
H. It cleanses us - John 15:13
I. It helps us fight Satan - Ephesians 6:12-18
V. Can we throw away our lamp? - II Corinthians 4:3-11
A. A lack of knowledge destroys - Hosea 4:6
B. Purchase the time to understand God’s will - Ephesians 5:15-17